Rapid, unprecedented change needed to halt global warming - U.N

Catherine McKenna

The world, which is already 1.0°C warmer compared to pre-industrial levels, is facing the climate wraths in some form or the other.

The report issued Monday by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), says the planet will reach the crucial threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels by as early as 2030, precipitating the risk of extreme drought, wildfires, floods and food shortages for hundreds of millions of people.

Can humanity cap global warming at 1.5°C?

The Paris Agreement was adopted by 195 countries at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December 2015, and created to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change.

But evidence in the new report, in which a team of 91 scientists from 40 countries analyzed over 6,000 scientific studies, shows that the future is bleaker than once thought.

"At 1.5°C, twice as many megacities (such as Lagos, Nigeria and Shanghai, China) could become heat-stressed, exposing more than 350 million more people to deadly heat by 2050 under midrange population growth", reads the IPCC report.

While more than 180 countries have accepted the report's summary, the USA (which is the second biggest emitter in the world) said that their acceptance of the report does not "imply endorsement" of the findings.

Sea level rises would be 10cm lower with a 1.5C temperature rise compared to 2C by 2100, while there would be worse impacts on coral reefs and the Arctic at higher temperatures.

There is no scenario to keep global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F) that allows coal to be burned for electricity by the middle of this century, a major United Nations (UN) climate report says.

Joyashree Roy, a professor of economics at Jadavpur University and a co-author of the IPCC report, says: "We have found that the burden of global warming will fall disproportionately on the poor who are not responsible for the problem if we don't meet (the) 1.5 degrees target".

Society would have to enact "unprecedented" changes to how it consumes energy, travels and builds to meet a lower global warming target or it risks increases in heat waves, flood-causing storms and the chances of drought in some regions as well as the loss of species, a United Nations report said on Monday.

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"Global warming is likely to reach 1.5 C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate", the report states.

Allowing the global temperature to temporarily exceed or "overshoot" 1.5ºC would mean a greater reliance on techniques that remove Carbon dioxide from the air to return global temperature to below 1.5°C by 2100.

Very - the report calls for "rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society". But the report warns that "the effectiveness of such techniques are unproven at large scale and some may carry significant risks for sustainable development".

Four scenarios are modeled in the report that reflect different strategies governments could take to deliver "no or low overshoot" of the 1.5°C target.

"Every bit of extra warming makes a difference", said Dr Hans-Otto Pörtner of the IPCC.

While government representatives are frankly buried by more high-quality scientific information than they really need to make sound decisions about the urgency of slowing climate change, they ordered up a 1.5°C addendum.

Getting more than half of the world's electricity from renewable sources, like solar and wind power, in just over 10 years.

Working Group I assesses the physical science basis of climate change; Working Group II addresses impacts, adaptation and vulnerability; and Working Group III deals with the mitigation of climate change.

Coal consumption by Indian thermal generators needs to be cut by two thirds within 2030 and to nearly zero by 2050 if India has to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees said Greenpeace India in a statement.

While warming of 2C above pre-industrial levels has widely been thought of as the threshold beyond which risky climate change will occur, vulnerable countries such as low-lying island states warn rises above 1.5C will threaten their survival.

This report shows the longer we leave it to act, the more hard, the more expensive and the more unsafe it will be. "Many land and ocean ecosystems and some of the services they provide have already changed due to global warming (high confidence)".

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